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MSI 2D

Topic Venue
Case No. G.R. No. L-37750 May 19, 1978
Case Name SWEET LINES, INC., petitioner
vs.
HON. BERNARDO TEVES, Presiding Judge, CFI of Misamis Oriental Branch VII, LEOVIGILDO TANDOG, JR., and
ROGELIO TIRO, respondents
Ponente Santos, J.

RELEVANT FACTS
 Petitioner Sweet Lines is a shipping company transporting inter-island passengers and cargos at Cagayan De Oro City.
 Private respondent Atty. Tandog and Rogelio Tiro, a contractor by professions bought tickets for Voyage 90 on December
31, 1971 at the branch of the petitioner.
 Respondents were to board petitioner’s vessel M/S Sweet Hope bound for Tagbilaran City via the port of Cebu.
 Upon learning that the vessel was not proceeding to Bohol, because many passengers were bound for Surigao, private
respondents per advice, went to the branch office for proper relocation to M/S Sweet Town.
 As M/S Sweet Town was already filled to capacity, they were forced to agree "to hide at the cargo section to avoid inspection
of the officers of the Philippine Coastguard."
 Private respondents alleged that they were, during the trip, "exposed to the scorching heat of the sun and the dust coming
from the ship's cargo of corn grits," and that the tickets they bought at Cagayan de Oro City for Tagbilaran were not honored
and they were constrained to pay for other tickets.
 Hence, private respondents sued petitioner for damages and breach of contract of carriage in the alleged sum of P10K before
respondents Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental
 Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground of improper venue based on condition 14 that was printed at the
back of the ticket which states:
o It is hereby agreed and understood that any and all actions arising out of the conditions and provisions of this ticket,
irrespective of where it is issued, shall be filed in the competent courts in the City of Cebu.
 The CFI denied the MTD. MR was also denied.
 Hence, this instant petition for prohibition for preliminary injunction, 'alleging that the respondent judge has departed from
the accepted and usual course of judicial proceeding" and "had acted without or in excess or in error of his jurisdiction or in
gross abuse of discretion”

Petitioner’s Arguments Private Respondents’ Arguments


 Condition No. 14 is valid and enforceable, since private  Condition No. 14 is not valid, that the same is not an
respondents acceded to it when they purchased essential element of the contract of carriage, being in
passage tickets at its branch office and took its vessel itself a different agreement which requires the mutual
M/S "Sweet Town" consent of the parties to it.
 Condition is proper since venue can be waived based  They had no say in its preparation, the existence of
on several cases. It is an effective waiver of venue, valid which they could not refuse, hence, they had no choice
and binding as such, since it is printed in bold and but to pay for the tickets and to avail of petitioner's
capital letters and not in fine print and merely assigns shipping facilities out of necessity.
the place where the action arising from the contract  The carrier "has been exacting too much from the
must be instituted; public by inserting impositions in the passage tickets
 That condition No. 14 is unequivocal and mandatory, too burdensome to bear,"
the words and phrases "any and all", "irrespective of  While venue of actions may be transferred from one
where it is issued," and "shall" leave no doubt that the province to another, such arrangement requires the
intention of Condition No. 14 is to fix the venue in the "written agreement of the parties", not to be imposed
City of Cebu, to the exclusion of other places unilaterally; and that assuming that the condition is
 The orders of the respondent Judge are an valid, it is not exclusive and does not, therefore,
unwarranted departure from established jurisprudence exclude the filing of the action in Misamis Oriental.
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governing the case; and that he acted without or in


excess of his jurisdiction in is the orders complained of.

ISSUE AND RATIO DECIDENDI

Issue Ratio
May a common carrier First, there is a valid contract of carriage entered into by the petitioner and private respondents. The
engaged in inter-island best evidence is the passage ticket.
shipping stipulate thru
a condition printed at It is a matter of common knowledge that whenever a passenger boards a ship for transportation from
the back of passage one place to another, he is issued a ticket by the shipper which has all the elements of a written contract,
tickets to its vessels namely:
that any and all actions 1. Consent of the contracting parties  the passenger boards the ship and the shipper consents
arising out of the or accepts him in the ship for transportation
contract of carriage 2. Cause or consideration  the fare paid by the passenger as stated in the ticket
should be filed only in a 3. Object  the transportation of the passenger from the place of departure to the place of
particular province or destination which are stated in the ticket.
city to the exclusion of
all others? NO Second, the 14 conditions printed at the back of the passage tickets (including the questioned Condition
14) is a contract of adhesion
- It is a contract drafted only by one party; the only participation of the other party is the signing
of his signature or his ‘adhesion’ thereto.
- Insurance contracts, bills of lading, contracts of make of lots on the installment plan fall into this
category.

The court ruled and held that Condition No. 14 printed at the back of the passage tickets should be held
as void and unenforceable for the following reasons
1. In the inter-island shipping industry, it is not just and fair to bind passengers to the terms of the
conditions printed at the back of the passage tickets, on which Condition No. 14 is printed in fine
letters, and
2. Condition No. 14 subverts the public policy on transfer of venue of proceedings of this nature,
since the same will prejudice rights and interests of innumerable passengers in different s of the
country who, under Condition No. 14, will have to file suits against petitioner only in the City of
Cebu.

As to the first reason, it is a matter of public knowledge, that there is a dearth of and acute shortage in
inter-island vessels plying between the country’s several islands, and the facilities they offer leave much
to be desired. Thus, even under ordinary circumstances, the piers are congested with passengers and
their cargo waiting to be transported. The conditions are even worse at peak and/or the rainy seasons,
when passengers literally scramble to whatever accommodations may be availed of, even though
circuitous routes, and/or at the risk of their safety — their immediate concern, for the moment, being to
be able to board vessels with the hope of reaching their destinations. The schedules are — as often as
not if not more so — delayed or altered. This was precisely the experience of private respondents when
they were relocated to M/S “Sweet Town” from M/S “Sweet Hope” and then any to the scorching heat
of the sun and the dust coming from the ship’s cargo of corn grits, “ because even the latter was filed to
capacity.

Under these circumstances, it is hardly just and proper to expect the passengers to examine their tickets
received from crowded/congested counters, more often than not during rush hours, for conditions that
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may be printed much charge them with having consented to the conditions, so printed, especially if there
are a number of such conditions m fine print, as in this case.
Unlike the insurance contract, a common example of a contract of adhesion, passengers of inter-island
do not have the same chance to take into account the conditions prior to the purchase. Their alleged
adhesion is presumed only from the fact that they purpose chased the tickets.

It should also be stressed that slapping companies are franchise holders of certificates of public
convenience and therefore, possess a virtual monopoly over the business of transporting passengers
between the ports covered by their franchise. Hence, they may thus dictate their terms of passage,
leaving passengers with no choice but to buy their tickets and avail of their vessels and facilities.

Finally, judicial notice may be taken of the fact that the bulk of those who board these inter-island vested
come from the low-income groups and are less literate, and who have little or no choice but to avail of
petitioner’s vessels

As to the second reason, subversive of public policy on transfers of venue of actions. For, although venue
may be changed or transferred from one province to another by agreement of the parties in writing such
an agreement will not be held valid where it practically negates the action of the claimants.

The philosophy underlying the provisions on transfer of venue of actions is the convenience of the
plaintiffs as well as his witnesses and to promote the ends of justice.

Considering the expense and trouble a passenger residing outside of Cebu City would incur to prosecute
a claim in the City of Cebu, he would most probably decide not to file the action at all. Hence, it would
defeat, instead of enhance, the ends of justice.

Public policy is that principle of the law which holds that no subject or citizen can lawfully do that which
has a tendency to be injurious to the public or against the public good

Under this principle freedom of contract or private dealing is restricted by law for the good of the public.

Clearly, Condition No. 14, if enforced, will be subversive of the public good or interest, since it will
frustrate in meritorious cases, actions of passenger cants outside of Cebu City, thus placing petitioner
company at a decided advantage over said persons, who may have perfectly legitimate claims against it.

RULING

WHEREFORE, the petition for prohibition is DISMISSED. The restraining order issued on November 20, 1973, is hereby LIFTED and SET
ASIDE. Costs against petitioner.

SEPARATE OPINIONS
Barredo, J. Concurring.
 Altough generally, agreements regarding change of venue are enforceable, there may be instances where for equitable
considerations and in the better interest of justice, a court may justify the laying of, the venue in the place fixed by the rules
instead of following written stipulation of the parties.
 In the particular case at bar, there is actually no written agreement as to venue between the parties in the sense
contemplated in Section 3 of Rule 4, which governs the matter. I take it that the importance that a stipulation regarding
change of the venue fixed by law entails is such that nothing less than mutually conscious agreement as to it must be what
the rule means.